Monday, April 21, 2014

A Negative Review: The Prestige Sucks

Let's not make this a habit. I really like this guy.

Christopher Nolan sucks. His Batman movies are "Batman" in name only, Memento tries to be too clever for its own good, Inception is downright terrible, and The Prestige is a total shitfest. Maybe I just haven't been smoking enough of whatever it is one has to take in order to see the "insane brilliance" that's otherwise so apparent and oozing out of Nolan's work.

The Prestige, a magician movie without any attempt at magic, starts out about two loser magician twins. One makes his wife kill herself, and the other rejects his only true love and ends up getting hanged. There's also some other schmuck magician who's wife is made to drown by one of the first two guys, although it's not ever made clear why this happens. So, this third guy eventually gets a cloning machine (what?), and his first thought is to start using it to get back at the guy who killed his wife by cloning himself repeatedly and then killing all those clones by submerging them in water tanks until they drown. This ends up making the first loser who doesn't get hanged kill this third guy by shooting him with a pistol.

Jesus, what a mess. The movie actually opens, though, by informing the audience about the three steps necessary when conducting magic tricks: 1) the pledge, where the magician sets up the reality he intends to use for his trick, 2) the turn, in which the magician bends this reality in contrast to its expected rules, and 3) the prestige, where the magician restores order to the system. Where this movie fails heavily is in the third part – all throughout The Prestige, the opposing magicians, Bale (plus his twin) and Jackman, try to discover the secrets to each other's tricks; in particular, Jackman is obsessed with discovering the secret of Bale's "the transported man" act. Because of the way the movie unfolds, because of the otherwise realistic flow of the world that is set, a rational mind may deduce, prior to the twist-ending, that Bale achieves his supposed teleportation by employing his lookalike twin to seemingly exist in two places at the same time. Well, you know what?


That is what Christopher Nolan has to say to you. Oh, were you expecting a pretty-looking period piece about a heated rivalry between two magicians? Suspend that, for a moment, and consider the following: today, you will be able to sleep with the girl of your dreams. Yes, that girl with whom you have absolutely no chance, ever. You happen across her at some nondescript grocery store, of all places. She's flicking her hair over her neck, batting her eyelashes, smiling seductively, and, oh yeah, she's definitely interested. You get in her car and it's a short drive to her house. She senses your excitement and plays the bigger man, telling you you can do anything you want. You open the door, go down into bed,  she slides her hand down– huh? She is the bigger man. She is a man. In horror, your eyes trace downwards, and in place of what you've so often dreamt about, is a hairy chest. And not only that; it looks like she means business. I forget the rest of the story.

The Prestige lies to its audience. This is not a movie about magicians, nor is it a movie about magic. This is shit-tier science fiction, the kind that makes "Spock's Brain" from Star Trek look good. In place of a witty explanation to Jackman's eventual success with "the transported man," we are shown that the guy's really been cloning himself, and that this clone teleports across the stage while the "original" falls into a water tank and drowns. Ironically, the resemblance to Star Trek is pretty noticeable: in all the Trek series, the use of the transporter always involved ripping apart the molecules of the transportee, downloading their pattern, and then reassembling the target from scratch, using different molecules, in effect having created a different instance of the same object – but the original must die in order for this to happen, as otherwise, the transporter does not have a pattern to clone. Much in this same way, Jackman repeatedly kills himself, because he really, really wants his magic trick to work, but... therein lies the problem... that is NOT magic – that's very clearly already into the realm of bullshit and science fiction, which, although those two are normally quite distinct, transform and mesh into one when the latter is salvaged as a plot device to explain ridiculous plot points that have no place in a story to begin with. In saying this, I am trying to show that this movie follows its own formula pretty well when it 1) pledges to be a movie about magicians, 2) turns with an air of mystery about the nature of the magicians' magic, but then 3) fails to deliver the prestige, in context, instead opting for some absurd cameo by David Bowie as Nikola Tesla who invents a cloning machine that officially moves the movie into the realm of hackneyed deus ex machina.

Sadly, The Prestige takes itself quite seriously. There is no air of humor nor implication of jest; this movie is really trying quite hard to sell, but no one appears to be buying. It's atrocious. A terrible thing.


  1. I totally agree! I can't believe this film is so highly rated. It's such a piece of shit only down to the ending- if they had found a reasonable way to bring the movie to a conclusion it would have balanced the mysterious and tragic events throughout the film but no, instead let's turn this into a Sci-Fi.

    I was expecting it to be similar (at least in some ways to The Illusionist) and I kept waiting for something to clever to happen while accidentally predicting half the film. It felt contrived and shallow. How can a film which such a great cast become this!?

  2. You are just a wannabe guy who wants to prove that he is a hipster.

  3. Guys like you google for critically acclaimed movies which are commercially less successful and praise them and bash all the commercially successful movies even if they are they are well received by critics.

    1. lol. Pretty late reply, so I doubt you'll ever check back on this (the anon commenting just above you can read this one all the same), but...

      Come on, really? What's more likely? That I found one movie you're positing is "critically acclaimed but commercially less successful" bad, or that there's really some great conspiracy? Is it logical to try and form a pattern from a singular example? Never mind that there's not even a basis for the second point you make; this site doesn't have a single positive/praising review.

      I'll take being a hipster if it means I'll be allowed to voice myself, but, frankly, a hipster tends also to voice themselves to a large crowd. Conversely, here I am, writing reviews for fun, on my spare time, and not to a particularly large audience – it probably took more effort for you to find me than for me to "bash" this move.

  4. nailed it dude. When I googled 'why is the movie Prestige' so shit, you came up first and rightly so. The only mystery we gave a shit about on viewing this masterpiece was 'why did David Bowie associate himself which such a steaming pile'. Why? Why? now he is dead and he probably is full of regrets.

  5. It seems like you missed the whole ppint that the device is supposed to be garbage. Its supposed to be over-simplified. A rich kid wanted to do magic, so he bought it; it's supposed to be repugnant. The twins earned it. That's the point.